Justice Elena Kagan said Wednesday that partisan battles over Supreme Court nominations makes the court look like “junior varsity politicians.”
“There is so much tit-for-tat for tit-for-tat that goes on in these processes,” Kagan said at an event with University of Chicago interns at the court on Wednesday. “Everybody has their list of times that they’ve been wronged. The Republicans have their list and the Democrats have their list.”
“It’s an unfortunate thing. Because it makes the world think we are sort of junior varsity politicians. I think that’s not the way we think of ourselves, even given the fact that we disagree,” Kagan said.
Her comments come as the battle over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the court heats up in Congress. Several Democrats have expressed concern over his views on multiple issues, while Republicans charge that Democrats are deliberately delaying meetings with Kavanaugh until after the fall midterms. If confirmed, he would replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy’s swing vote on social issues like abortion, affirmative action and LGBT rights.
Kagan did not mention Kavanaugh specifically.
Kagan was nominated in 2010 by President Barack Obama and confirmed in a 63-37 Senate vote that was mostly along party lines. She shared that in the court’s view, it was “better” when justices were confirmed by an overwhelming majority, which she called a “lopsided vote.”
“There have certainly been periods where the expectation has been that if you have a certain set of qualifications and if you looked like you were going to be a responsible judge, even if somebody thinks that there is going to be some set of rulings which they’ll disagree with, the expectation was, nonetheless the President was entitled to his Supreme Court pick,” Kagan said.
“These votes make it seem that we’re an extension of the political process,” she added. “Long-term I think that’s very unhealthy for the court.”